Just days after Venezuela’s referendum on the contested Essequibo, the Brazilian army deployed 28 armored personnel carriers to Roraima, the state adjacent to Venezuela and Guyana.
The deployment had been planned for some time but was sped up over Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s recent moves to annex the region under Guyana’s control.
In order to invade Essequibo, the Brazilian military believes the Venezuelan army would have to cross Brazilian territory. However, Maduro’s forces are poorly equipped and trained to carry out such a land-based intervention.
The Brazilian top brass believes the Venezuelan attack on Guyana would likely come from sea and air — with limited capabilities, says Horizon Engage senior analyst Mark Langevin.
Regardless, the crisis challenges President Lula’s rapprochement with Caracas after his two predecessors took a hard line on the regime. Last May, the Venezuelan president traveled to Brasilia, where Lula warmly welcomed him.
The administration plans to treat Venezuela’s referendum on Essequibo as a domestic issue, refraining from issuing any judgment. But Maduro’s escalation of the conflict with Guyana has irritated Lula, who worries that further escalations could trigger more international sanctions on Caracas; end hopes of free and fair elections next year; and undermine Brazilian business interests in Venezuela.
Brazil wants Venezuela to respect the ICC decisions on the Essequibo and directly negotiate a resolution to the impasse with Guyana. Lula plans to send emissaries to Caracas to tell the Venezuelan leader and try to nudge him away from any sudden military deployments near the border area. Meanwhile, Guyanese President Irfaan Ali claims that Lula told him he does not support Maduro’s adventurism.
As long as Maduro does not overplay his hand through provocative troop movements that threaten Brazil’s own territorial sovereignty and regional stability, Lula can play peacemaker — a spotlight he covets but will only take if he sees a path to resolution.
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